Peter Dempster asked me to post this follow-up post to an earlier one of his. Nicholas
A novel voting strategy for centrists
Vote 1 for your preferred party but then do something very unusual – Vote 2 for the opposing party, symbolically joining the major parties on your ballot. Make this the trademark vote of the Australian CENTRE, a demand for much less division and much more compromise in Australian politics. 70% of voters agree … political parties should ‘meet in the middle’. (Essential Poll, 18 July 2017)
If we can’t do this, how can they?
|Either: Vote 1 for LABOR
& Vote 2 for LIBERAL/NATIONAL
|Or: Vote 1 for LIBERAL/NATIONAL
& Vote 2 for LABOR
If you Vote 1 for a minor party or independent, consider joining the major parties further down your ballot, say, at 2+3 or 3+4.
CENTRE votes will be detected in poll results – polling station by polling station, suburb by suburb. Such that Australia’s CENTRE can stand up and actually be counted, not divisively assigned to one party or another as ‘their’ voters. Only 18% of Australians say they identify with either the left or right wings of politics.
Most importantly, CENTRE votes suggest a readiness to flip, a quiet threat to unseat the most divisive politicians.
It’s a symbolic vote but symbols are essential. Flags are symbols; hi-vis vests and school uniforms are symbols; hair styles and tattoos; handshakes and signatures; hugs and kisses. Putting the other party last, as instructed by each party’s how-to-vote, is also a symbol. But a symbol of disgust and mistrust, which is not what most of us want to say to each other; only 18% of voters identify with either left-wing or right-wing politics. So, on 18 May, let’s rally ourselves, come together, look around to find we are not alone, realise the strength in our numbers; proclaim the CENTRE from both sides of politics. It’s the start of a long road back to where we need to be.
It is important to vote CENTRE for the Senate, not just the House of Representatives. There is an exhaustive reporting of Senate preferences, such that the CENTRE vote can be fully documented.
The Senate ballot paper can be challenging. If you need a cheat sheet in the polling booth, you will find how-to-votes at thecentrevotes.org. There are always three: one each for those who Vote 1 LABOR, those who Vote 1 LIBERAL/NATIONAL, and those who vote minor party or independent. All can adopt some version of the CENTRE vote, declaring what they have in common, not just how they differ.
Then what happens?
The CENTRE’s objective is to establish a political audience and constituency that is neither left wing nor right wing. Such that pollsters take an interest in what CENTRE voters think, rather than assign us to a party – LABOR, LIBERAL, GREEN and so forth. Political journalists do more stories that interest the CENTRE, focusing on the pre-selection, behaviour and abilities of individual politicians in respect of … meeting in the middle. Politicians better understand they must appeal to the CENTRE, most importantly, by creating non-partisan processes and institutions to resolve the many difficult issues that we face. Thus, a rejuvenated, and depoliticised public service, genuine public consultation, anti-corruption commission, evaluator general, independent commissions to deal objectively with tough issues, fewer rollouts of half-baked policies a few weeks or days before elections.
The CENTRE may need a ‘big stick’ of the kind favoured by Teddy Roosevelt … speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far … to jointly threaten the careers of divisive politicians on both sides of politics. That requires more political innovation and will take some organising. Importantly, however, the CENTRE will have expressed a need felt on both sides of politics.